Who do I work for?

In a recent post I pointed out how autonomous the venture business can be. If that’s the case, then, who do I work for?

Brad hired me and I spent several years working directly for him (i.e., supporting him in his investments). He’s still my boss, although we don’t have a traditional reporting relationship (I’m a junior partner – a Principal in our nomenclature – and he’s a senior partner – a Managing Director). I use him as a sounding board and advisor a lot but we don’t really have much of a boss/employee relationship. To some extent I work ‘for’ the other Managing Directors of Mobius but more in the same way someone at a company works ‘for’ their board of directors or their investors. Certainly I work for our investors – my job is to return them more money than they gave us and I have a direct responsibility to be a good steward of their money and trust in us.

More than anything, though, I really work for the management teams of the companies I manage and sit on the boards of. This may seem counter intuitive – as a board member, technically they work for me (and the rest of the board – something that is certainly clear when we’ve made a management changes). I don’t get the feeling that this view is shared particularly widely across the venture community, but I think it’s the right way to look at it. I spend more time with the management teams of the companies I work with than I do with any other group and ultimately everything I do is judged by their success – and by extension, my ability to help them become successful.

  • Craig

    Once you get to Ethiopia, you’ll learn you have a whole new boss.

  • Two great posts back to back.
    I’ve known a number of people in investment banking and private equity since my teens.
    Rarely, do you see a portfolio manager, trader, or Vc honestly admit that they are in a service based industry.
    My initial reluctance in getting involved in any investment or advisorial activity was based on my undertanding that the investment manager, adviser, or VC is everyone’s servant.
    You serve LPs, Managing Partners, General Partners, Startups/Startup Founders, etc., etc. {I obviously overcame my reluctance, my principal work experience derives from consultancy or advisorial work}
    A friend and former teacher who was a prolific investor taught me that the key was to always seek a role of absolute selfless servitude at the vortex of essential transactions that link the haves and have nots. His notion was that by playing middleman and serving both sides you, the servant, make yourself indispensible to both.
    One of our greatest assets will always be to understand the true value of service.

  • Well said Seth…sorry we didn’t get a chance to meet in person at the Office 2.0 conference (I was the co-moderator of the VC Panel with Niel), but posts like this make me wish you blogged more frequently!